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Exhausted person sitting next to the personification of fatigue on a cramped sofa

Chronic Fatigue – My Invisible “Friend”

I have someone, or rather something, with me at all times. It’s there when I wake up and when I lie in bed gearing up to get up. It’s there when I make my breakfast, check emails, and get ready for the day. It’s there when I’m working. Seeing friends. Seeing family. It’s there when I go to bed. It’s there every day. No holidays or time off for this “friend” that is with me constantly.

Chronic fatigue.

“I never feel like me.”

I think I’ve been tired since my diagnosis, well actually, definitely since a week before my diagnosis. Maybe longer than that. I can’t remember. Memory is a funny thing. Things blur and change with time. Things are forgotten so you keep going. I know that for the last 11 years, and definitely the last 8 years, I have been tired. I never feel like me. Actually, that’s not true. On the rare occasion I am given a treatment break, 10 days after stopping the oral chemotherapy that keeps my body in remission from CML, I feel like the true me again. The longest I have been allowed off treatment was 6 weeks before my leukaemic rate shot up enough for my consultant to get twitchy and I had to start treatment again.

I’m 33 and I need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep to function the next day. That’s the day. Not day and evening. I rarely see friends, as I can’t work and see them. So work takes the priority. I can’t exercise, as I can only do that or work. I miss running. I can’t stand up for more than about half an hour before I have to sit down. I can walk, but the longer I walk, the slower I get. My parents who are in their 60s are faster than me.

“…if I said how I really felt, I wouldn’t see anyone.”

But when people ask how I am, I smile and say “ok.” Ok isn’t ok, but if I said how I really felt, I wouldn’t see anyone. They wouldn’t want to be with me. And when I’m told by friends and colleagues that they feel tired… well, in all honesty, I want to punch them in the face. But I smile and say very little. They don’t know what tired is. They don’t know what it’s like to be out, phoning home when standing in the middle of London and crying down the phone because you don’t know how you will find the energy to walk to the tube. They don’t know what it’s like to have to mentally beat yourself up into getting out of bed every day. They don’t know what it’s like to have your eyes burning most of the time because you are exhausted. Or to have shooting pains down your skull. Or legs that hurt with fatigue. Or to wonder how the hell you are going to get your work done because you just can’t concentrate and all you want to do is cry.

I refuse to be an ill person. I am my own worst enemy. I make myself do things. And I suffer for it. But what is life if you don’t have one? Well, I don’t really. Chronic fatigue leaches it from me. But, I do what I can. And hope that one day I will be rid of this ‘friend’.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Paula
    6 months ago

    It’s a bone tired fatigue! It starts in the joints and moves outward. It’s like slugging through quicksand each and every day and it reduces quality of life. I hope you find a way to do the things you love to do the most in your life, to do the things that matter to you the most, to give energy where it benefits you! Sending hugs

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    5 months ago

    @paula your description is head-on. Chronic fatigue is like no other, but some kind of way we get through it one day at a time. Best!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    11 months ago

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It must be awful. Are you able to get disability? I hope you are able to find relief from your fatigue. I will say a prayer for you.

  • Ccarrubba
    12 months ago

    Chronic fatigue is a “friend” we all wish we could loose. I feel for you. I retired just prior to getting my AML diagnosis. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to get up every morning to go to work, then to have to work all day. You must be a very strong, mentally and physically, person to endure this fatigue while working. I have a hard enough time just keeping up my house. I know I could not hold down a job with our “friend” tagging along. God Bless you and I pray for that day when we can loose the chronic fatigue we all feel. Keep the faith.

  • steff1951
    1 year ago

    So sorry about your fatigue. I don’t think anyone can understand unless they have experienced it. I thank you for sharing your feelings. I am a lot older, and have different kind of leukemia, but feel the fatigue like you do. We will all get through this with each other’s help. God bless.

  • jgoldengirl
    1 year ago

    Well said.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 year ago

    So sorry Katie. It’s unfortunate the fatigue is taking its toll. Positive energy your way. Best!

  • bluchs
    1 year ago

    Katie Wow!
    I am so very sorry for what you are going through at such a young age!
    I must say, I actually agree with Obcodi.
    Just change a few words and this is also me.
    This fatigue we endure sucks at any age.
    But at least I reached retirement age, before being plagued with it.
    I hope, that God see’s your pain, and gives you the gift of a full life, and remission.
    Perhaps a cure will be found for all of us?
    Until then, don’t give up hope, keep your faith.
    God Bless You Katie

  • Obcodi
    1 year ago

    This could have been written by me about me with a very few minor changes such as name, age, cancer type, etc., and I’m sorry for you and me and the many others who suffer wit this side effect! Thanks for sharing!

  • Anthony Carrone moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi @obcodi – I’m sorry you are suffering from chronic fatigue. I know it can make it difficult to do things you once had the energy for. Please know we are always here for you and you are certainly not alone in this experience. Thanks for showing your support for your fellow community members 🙂 We are honored to have you here. Sending positive thoughts your way, Anthony (Team Member)

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